UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Postgraduate research (MPhil/PhD)

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is a vibrant and stimulating learning environment in which to carry out postgraduate research.

Ophthalmology researcher in the lab

Postgraduate students are supervised by internationally renowned experts in their field with access to state-of-the-art laboratories. In addition, our close contacts with clinicians in Moorfields Eye Hospital allows for rapid translation of basic research to address clinically relevant eye diseases and disorders.

Postgraduate students at the Institute are fully integrated into university life at UCL and will benefit, academically and personally, from the services and facilities of the university’s Graduate School, plus accessing social and sporting facilities through the UCL Union.

Institute of Ophthalmology 3-Year Moorfields Eye Charity PhD Studentship

UCL Department / Division: UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Duration of Studentship: 3 years

A full-time 3-year PhD studentship is available to study the pathobiology of early diabetic retinopathy in humans. 

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of long-term diabetes and can lead to vision loss. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in high income countries. Yet despite decades of research, the mechanisms that lead to DR in humans are poorly understood and there are no good treatments available. In this project, we aim to apply modern analysis methods (in situ hybridization, gene profiling and mass spectrometry imaging) to human postmortem tissue, which we have already collected and phenotyped, to investigate molecular mechanisms that may contribute to DR. 

Applications of self-driven candidates with a desire to develop a career in bioscience are welcomed. The project is a collaboration between Prof Marcus Fruttiger (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) and Prof Adnan Tufail (Moorfields Eye Hospital).  

Duties and Responsibilities 
The successful candidate is expected to: 
·    Develop an expertise in diabetes, diabetic complications and disease mechanisms in general
·    Carry out histopathological research using immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridisation, gene expression profiling and mass spectrometry imaging 
·    Actively and continuously read the scientific literature (within and peripheral to the main project focus) 
·    Work in collaboration with other researchers 
·    Prepare progress reports and presentations 
·    Travel for collaboration and other meetings or conferences 
·    Prepare manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals
·    Contribute to the overall activities of the research team, department and be aware of UCL policies

Person Specification 
·    A good degree (2.1 or above; or equivalent EU/overseas degree) and/or an MSc in a biomedical field, preferably relating to disease mechanisms
·    Demonstrable interest in scientific research, neurobiology, vascular biology and human disease mechanisms
·    Excellent methodological skills, particularly in project planning
·    High proficiency in written and spoken English is required
·    Very strong work ethic, with the ability to think creatively and work both individually and within a team 

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Marcus Fruttiger (m.fruttiger@ucl.ac.uk)

Formal applications should be submitted by email in the form of a CV, covering letter outlining motivation, interest, and suitability for this project, and contact details for two referees to Kristina Labanauskaite, Research Degrees Administrator (ioo.pgr@ucl.ac.uk).
Shortlisted candidates will be contacted directly for interview (can be via Skype or Zoom).

The successful candidate is expected to start 4th October 2020, but there is a possibility that the start date may be delayed.

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded for 3 years by the Moorfields Eye Charity and includes UK home UCL PhD tuition fees, laboratory costs and an annual salary stipend starting at £20,000 (incl. London Allowance).


The full studentship (tuition fees and salary stipend) is eligible to all UK nationals and EU nationals if they have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately before the PhD start date. 

Application deadline: 19 April 2021

Proposed interview date: 21-30 April 2021 

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Funded studentships

PhD Studentships provide funding that cover tuition fees, student living expenses and often some research expenses. Usually they will have been awarded to specific supervisors or programmes. Any Institute of Ophthalmology studentships will be featured here, but you may also want to regularly check relevant websites.

Speculative opportunities

If you can’t find a studentship in a research project that interests you or you have your own funding, the best way to find a PhD project is to approach a potential supervisor directly. Exceptional students, that meet the entrance requirements, are encouraged to be proactive to identify opportunities with UCL academics whose recent research closely matches their interests.

To apply for a PhD course at the Institute of Ophthalmology, please get in touch with a potential supervisor and discuss the details of your proposed project. Detailed guidance on how to contact a potential supervisor and the Project Proposal form can be found below. Once you have found a supervisor, who agrees to supervise, please fill in the application form online

A summary of the research interests of each of our supervisors can be found on the webpage of each principal investigator.

You may also wish to:

  • browse the UCL's online Graduate Prospectus to find centres of research in your area of interest. Click through to the department or centre website to find staff profiles.
  • search our online research repository (UCL Discovery) where UCL’s research papers are published, subject to approvals. If you identify a research paper that particularly interests you it is likely that one of the authors would be a suitable research supervisor.

If an academic is very impressed with your research experience and proposal they may be able to help you to identify sources of funding, including from their own, or departmental, research funds. There are also UCL scholarships that they can nominate you for.

Get in touch

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the Research Degrees Administrator
Kristina Labanauskaite Ioo.pgr@ucl.ac.uk